Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sometimes it Sucks

The title of today's blog comes from a long conversation I had with my friend who admitted that "If asked, I'll tell people having a disability doesn't change anything. But really, sometimes it sucks."

Of course, sometimes evereything sucks. Being a writer on submission sucks. Being a mom with two squalling kids sucks. Having all the money in the world and no one to share it with sucks. But I don't have first-hand experience with those things. I do have experience with being an adolescent with a disability.

Trust me. It sucks.

Knowing that no matter what you do or want to do you will have to figure out the extra costs of things that for everyone else are a luxury and for you are essential (from more frequent cabs to cleaners to bandages and medication) sucks.

Knowing that the organizations out there who are supposed to help you often just want ot stick you away somewhere that may or may not be the best place, with a job that may not be fulfilling or at all what you want to do sucks.

Planning where you want to live based on public transportation and medical facilities sucks.

Being very away that you can't make the sacrifices other people make to achieve the same dreams as you sucks.

Feeling like you have to live up to people's beliefs about the angelic, uncomplaining, people with disabilities sucks.

Frequent pain, lethargy and being stared at suck.

But what doesn't suck is the knowledge that you've succeeded in an arena that no one expects you to. What doesn't suck is the determination to be who you want to be even if society makes it difficult, or nearly impossible.

And what doesn't suck is being the one who is willing to sit here and tell you that even though sometimes it sucks, sometimes it rocks and and sometimes it's\ mediocre.

Just like everyone else's life.

Because sometimes, life sucks. (And sometimes it doesn't)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RTW: Favorite Book of June

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

This Week's Topic:
 What's the best book you've read this month?

Yikes, that's a tough one! I totally had to check my GoodReads to see what I read this month! But I'm pretty sure my answer is Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, which I reviewed here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Musings: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar

If it were published today, I imagine The Bell Jar would almost certainly be a YA book. The protagonist is nineteen and it is a very self-examing first person narrative. Also, a little bit disturbingly once you know the story, I identified very well with Ester, the main character. Eater starts out the book at an intern at a New York magazine, but after her next plans to take a writing course fall through, she ends up living at home in a Boston suburb with her mother. It's so normal, and her feelings of uncertainty are so familiar that her ensuing emotional breakdown almost seemed too... unreal at first. 

Like, I've experienced similar things, eerily so, and never tried to kill myself. Shouldn't her experience be bigger? More dramatic? But I think Plath knew exactly what she was doing. Someone with depression exists in the same way as everyone else, but these feelings affect them differently, and the spiral downward happens very quickly. 

I'm interested in abnormal psychology, and this book gives a fascinating insight into depression as well as the method used to treat it in the fifties. The juxtaposition of Ester to the other women in the facility she ends up in also goes to show how "ordinary" people end up with depression and suicidal tendencies. 

It really hit home with me, this book, and I recommend it to everyone.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Musical Monday

Has anyone else ever noticed how many awesome summer songs come from the nineties?

What's that? No? No one beats the Beach Boys for summer songs?

But you know what? They're the nineties for me too, because I was addicted to Full House as a child. So there.

ANYWAY. I give you:

Summer Girls by LFO "You come from Georgia where the peaches grow..." damn right I do.

Summer of '69 (I like the Green Day version. Sue me.)

Away With the Summer Days by Youngstown (which apparently only I remember judging by the lack of anything but a Pirates of the Caribbean Fanvid to show you)

Those are just a few of my favorites.

What are some of your songs of summer?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

iPhoto Fail

Last night my friend and I were messing around with my iPhoto and we saw this:

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Contest Winner!!!

The winner of a Sarah Rees Brennan book of her choosing is....


SJune !!!!


Send me an email at chelseyblair (at) gmail (dot) com with your address, the book you chose and your preference of Amazon or Powell's!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Five!

1. Yesterday, while abandoning my poor MacBook Air at the computer shop to get it fixed (a few DROPS of coffee sent the "n" and "y" keys into a world of pain), I thought about how we've developed a sort of counter-intuitive culture around computers and coffee. We treat them the way we used to treat paper, reading and writing at coffee shops or in the mornings while sipping our daily brew *sips*. This leads to incidents like this, but we really don't seek to change it. Interesting, no?

2. First sunburn of the summer. I have a friend in town and we spent Wednesday by the pool. I decided to attempt to act like a Floridian for once in my life and so forgot to put on sunscreen until it was too late. At least I look like a Floridan for once.

3. Because my friend is here and she likes Buffy but hasn't seen Angel, my marathon has switched from alternating the two to simply watching Buffy. oddly okay with me, because we have arrived at season five. I have to say, Dawn and Tara, both characters who were disliked by the original fandom, are kind of my favorites. This says a lot, I think, about me and my penchant for the outsiders.

4. I have a weird history with umbrellas. I've bent them, broken them, lost them. I have, however, not ever sent one flying across the street and hit a pedestrian. This person has.

5. This video has a lot of relevance for authors, but also emphasizes something really important to the way I see things. I believe I'm out in the world searching for my "people". You know, the ones who will catch you when you jump off a stage, as opposed to the ones who would drop you.

5.5 Don't forget to comment here to win a Sarah Rees Brennan Book!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Disbility and Art: Being an Artist (with a disability)

This will be the last post in this weekly series, though probably not on the subject itself. For the newcomers, I've been blogging about my thoughts on disability and art inspired by a documentary I recently watched entitled "ARTS: Disability, Possibility and the Arts."

I am a writer. I consider myself an artist and words are my medium (I don't mean this in a New Agey way, I mean it as an actual definition).

I have a disability.

My disability affects my art, because it affects the way I see, interact with and understand the world.

I am from the South, I am female, I speak French, I have been to Amsterdam, I am addicted to coffee, I believe in equality, I can quote passages of Harry Potter and I majored in English at a small school in Atlanta.

All of these things affect my art, because they affect the way I see, interact with and understand the world.

They don't make my art any more or less valid. The effect they have on what I do may make my work appeal more to certain people, they may help my work shed light on something I've experienced or seen that no one has quite put into words in the same way, or that can relate to someone who has had this experience while opening the eyes of someone else.

I am an artist with a disability, and I know the product of those last three words--their influence on me--threads its way through every element of the books I write because my disability significantly affects my life. But so does my obsession with England, though to a lesser degree.

A hundred--a thousand--a million tiny elements of my life can be seen in what I write and traced back to a part of me. Some can be seen more largely than others. My love of music rings higher than my interest in abnormal psychology (right now). But none of them define who I am or what my art is.

This is why I despair so much when people write, speak or purchase the works of an artist ONLY because they are "a disabled artist," because if disability were the only influence on their work, then my guess is it'd be pretty boring.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fire Burning on the Dance Floor

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
The house is on fire and you've only got time to grab five things. What are they?

Assuming the safety of my family...:

1. My laptop, because let's get real here, it's my lifeblood and with it I could back up the other tech I keep thinking of, like my iPhone, iPod and iPad.

2. My bear puppet that's been with me since I was nine months old.

3. Family photo albums. I'm counting this as one thing because i'm currently scanning them and they feel like one huge thing about to swallow me whole...

4. If the fire were in some metaphorical house where all my things were as opposed to them being spread over two states, my large stuffed frog a friend gave me out of the blue for my16th birthday. 

5. I'm trying to think of a book I'd take as number five, but honestly my answer is sliding toward another doll or stuffed animal from my childhood. Books can be old friends, but none of mine are so precious as to never be able to be replaced... 

This was harder than it looked!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Musings: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

xBeauty Queens

All the discussions about diversity in YA? All the times authors have said "I write about X because it's underrepresented in the marketplace"? 

Yeah. Those conversations can stop. 

The heart of Beauty Queens is the diverse cast. Granted every character has the "thing" that makes them special (being Deaf, gay, transgender, Texan) but they also have intriguing characteristics and backstories that keep them from being only this trait. Additionally, certain revelations--particularly about the trans character--are done so skillfully that you care about the person before the trait.

In a way, I think the thread of satire with the Corporation--serving to remind the reader of the way the image of beauty is controlled--might be overdone a bit. It serves a purpose, and for some might be the heart of the book, but for me the diversity won hands down.

Sosie, the Deaf character, has so much else going for her. She's a badass warrior, a dancer, questioning her sexuality and more. However, Bray isn't afraid to delve into the effect her disability has on her life--the choices she makes to prove people wrong. In one particularly well-drawn flashback she describes interaction with a girl in a wheelchair who is taking the The World Sucks attitude toward disability whereas Sosie is all My Disability Doesn't Get Me Down. I've seen both perspectives to this extreme and think Bray hit the nail on the head. 

I also think this puts the nail in the coffin for the "can you write what you haven't experienced?" question. Bray can, and does.

A few notes:

Significant parts of the set-up reminded me of Gordon Korman's Island! Trilogy, but I may be the only person who reread those about a million times in 2000.

At one point the phrase "deranged Muppet" is used, linking it to Maureen Johnson's Last Little Blue Envelope, which is fun. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Every Day

Things change so quickly in life. An hour ago I had planned on making a post about how sporadic my posts might be over the next few weeks because I was scheduled to have surgery on the 28th, but then my doctor's office called and said the schedule had been rescheduled for the fifth.

So. This post won't be about that.

Now it's not. But this made me think of how things change with one phone call. One email. And all we can do is keep going in the direction we believe ourselves to be heading until the next change comes along.

When have you experienced a sudden change like this? 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Specials

What's this? A Sunday post?

I bring you fun and exciting things!

First, an actual, real, trailer for the upcoming Muppet movie:

and a five minute special look at Torchwood: Miracle Day

Don't forget to comment here to win a Sarah Rees Brennan book!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Good Samaritans, Bad Fashion

Last night we went out to dinner for Father's Day a few towns over because Dad wanted to go to the Bass Pro Shop for shirts (The South--where even bookish, non-sporty men buy their clothes at a store with dead deer on the walls) and that's where the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse nearest us is.

Side note: when did booty shorts at an expensive restaurant become okay? Especially when dressing up is so much fun?

On the drive home, we'd almost gotten over the Three-Mile Bridge (which has a real name, but hey, this is The South. We simplify) when Mom noticed the tire pressure light had gone on. A few moments alter, the tire begins to make loud not-okay, noises. We got across the bridge and into the service road near the Pensacola Welcome Center before it totally flattened. Note: this is the road people take to go fishin' on the fishin' bridge so on a Friday night it's fairly heavily trafficked. (I know, I know, but for real. People do that for entertainment)

It was ten o'clock at night, and I had a scene in my head I REALLY wanted to edit. Such is life.

While Mom called triple-A a guy came up offering to help. He said he worked at Southern Miss and was "a tire changing expert". Mom hung up with triple-A.

Cue the search for the spare. While the guy and my dad tore apart the car, and the nice lady with him told my mom her life story, I pulled out my iPhone.

"Where is the spare 2008 Honda Odyssey?"

Yeah. Guess who found it? All those years of searching for "lyrics to animal crackers in my soup" and "buffy angel watch order" paid off.

Unfortunately, because I am someone's protagonist this guy could not find the tool to loosen our locked lug nuts (that sounds like a code, doesn't it?) so back in the car to call triple-A again we went. While Mom was on the phone, Dad had to tell the passing Good Samaritans we were missing a tool. The guy changing the tire had amusingly thought the one to talk to about the mechanical stuff was dad but since A. Mom is the Does Stuff person in the family and B. Dad can't hear, I'm not entirely sure what these passersby thought we were missing, but it probably was something more along the lines of "screws loose" than "lug nuts tight".

Then, another Good Samaritan pulled up, and announced he could change the tire. He had a four-sized lug wrench and--apparently--magical powers. He found the missing tool. Now this guy was the guy who sells gasoline in all those old Southern movies. Bald, a few teeth lacking, heavy Southern accent, with a large son who doesn't say much except "Here's the wrench, Dad." (You thought he'd say Pa? Yeah, me too.)

But he changed our tire, didn't accept the money Dad tried to give him, and was generally very nice. I started thinking about how even though this place can be backward sometimes, and not my favorite place in the world, people are nice.

But it's not true that it wouldn't happen somewhere else. When I fell in New York last year a lot of people stopped. A doctor passing by, the drugstore owner across the corner and some others. For all that people can be horrible, they can be surprisingly wonderful, too.

"Insert Ann Frank quote here."

Friday, June 17, 2011

June Giveaway

For the newcomers to the blog, my monthly contests are an effort to get more exposure for my "asterisked books" (the ones involving disability in some way) I'll be giving away one of these a week to a random commenter (you must follow the blog to be eligible). This month, for bonus points, link to a blog post or tweet about the contest for an extra entry!

This month's prize will be...
The Demon's Lexicon The Demon's Covenant (Demon's Lexicon) The Demon's Surrender (Demon's Lexicon)


Have you been eagerly awaiting the last book in the trilogy? Are you new to the world of Demon's Lexicon? No worries! You'll be able to get whatever book you need!

Comment on this entry to win!

My review of the first book.

GoodReads Summary of Demon's Lexicon:
Nick and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magic. Their father was murdered, and their mother was driven mad by magicians and the demons who give them power. The magicians are hunting the Ryves family for a charm that Nick's mother stole -- a charm that keeps her alive -- and they want it badly enough to kill again.

Danger draws even closer when a brother and sister come to the Ryves family for help. The boy wears a demon's mark, a sign of death that almost nothing can erase...and when Alan also gets marked by a demon, Nick is desperate to save him. The only way to do that is to kill one of the magicians they have been hiding from for so long.

Ensnared in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is telling him lie after lie about their past. As the magicians' Circle closes in on their family, Nick uncovers the secret that could destroy them all.

This is the Demon's Lexicon. Turn the page.

GoodReads Summary of Demon's Covenant:
Mae Crawford's always thought of herself as in control, but in the last few weeks her life has changed. Her younger brother, Jamie, suddenly has magical powers, and she's even more unsettled when she realizes that Gerald, the new leader of the Obsidian Circle, is trying to persuade Jamie to join the magicians. Even worse? Jamie hasn't told Mae a thing about any of it. Mae turns to brothers Nick and Alan to help her rescue Jamie, but they are in danger from Gerald themselves because he wants to steal Nick's powers. Will Mae be able to find a way to save everyone she cares about from the power-hungry magician's carefully laid trap? 

GoodReads Summary of Demon's Surrender:
The Demon's Surrender is the thrilling, suspenseful conclusion to the Demon's Lexicon series. (because that's not vague)

Friday Five!

0. This is my 300th post. As celebration, my June contest will be announced later today!!

1. I HAVE A JOB! It's as an independent contractor doing writing for a company here that's doing a project in Voluntary Pre-K Classrooms, so I don't have to actually go into work which is very nice. Also, I got it because my doctor called saying the owner had mentioned he needed a writer. She gave me his number. The director of communications who hired me has a son who went to my high school and knows a lot of my friends. My mother's former boss is working closely with the project. My dad was on the original board that crafted VPK about nine years ago.

Small. World.

2. I am SUPER excited about Pottermore. I spent the better part of my high school years very involved in Harry Potter fandom, and still have friends I met through it. While I don't know that I'll have the time to be as into whatever RPG/social networking Pottermore offers, the possibilities are really exciting. Plus if it means the books will be available as ebooks this will be FABULOUS. Searchable Potter for the win!

3. On Wednesday John Green announced the next Vlogbrothers Book Club book. It's The Great Gatsby. I didn't watch the video until Thursday morning--when The Great Gatsby was already sitting as the next book on my to-read pile. Creepy, no?

4. A friend posted this on LiveJournal the other day, and I think it's important to remember:

5. And while we're on the subject, the muppets released a new trailer for the next movie.

Can. not. wait.

This week's Friday Five: Harry Potter, Muppets and John Green. It couldn't be more quintessentially me, could it?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Disability and Art: Art vs. Art Therapy

Continuing from last week's blog about disability and art based on the "ARTS: Disabilities, Possibilities and the Arts" documentary I watched recently.

The video, in my opinion, does a pretty good job of demonstrating the different ways in which art and disability interact. Unfortunately, this necessarily took us into the realm of art therapy. Artistic endeavors controlled or suggested by an outside source specifically as a means of "coping".

First of all, I have NOTHING against art being used as self-expression for people who have difficulty with it otherwise. Heck, Van Gogh channeled his depression, feelings of being ostracized and other possible issues into his work. But that wasn't all there was to it. For something to be "art", I believe it requires another, more universal quality, that not every painting done by someone with a disability is going to have--not every painting done by an "artist" will have it either.

This is pretty common philosophy when speaking of the definition of art, but it's not when speaking of this-or-that person with a disability who creates "art." You've seen the kind of thing I mean. The superficial paintings of flowers purchased in hospital giftshops, labeled for all to know this-or-that disadvantaged person with Cerebral Palsy or Asperger's painted them. I'm not arguing, necessarily, that none of these are art. What I'm arguing is that to immediately assume the fact that a disabled person did them makes them art does these people a disservice.

Here's what it says to me: it says this person should not be expected to meet the expectations or standards of others in the same field because of their limitations.

Art done as therapy has intrinsic value to the person who did it, to their therapists, to their families. If they have talent, it is valid to the art world. If they enjoy it, this is wonderful. If it gives their life meaning, fantastic.

But as much as I hate to take away the feeling of pride that must come when one of these creations is purchased--doesn't it do everyone with a disability who creates a disservice for us not to call out the patron who buys a piece of artwork and forever tells people who ask about it, "Yes, sweet isn't it? A person with Autism painted it, isn't that extraordinary?"

Shouldn't we be striving for people to say, "Oh, isn't it great? I especially love the way the colors work over here. The artist has had several successful shows in Paris. I also heard he has Autism. Do you think this is the reason for the sense of detachment of the work, or do you think it's the subject itself?"

And if you're wondering why I allow the mention of the Autism to stay in this hypothetical at all, stay tuned for next week: "Being an Artist with a Disability."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

RTW: Taglines

Today's Road Trip Wednesday over at YA Highway is:

This Week's Topic:

You're re-reading one of your favs when someone asks the dreaded question: "What's that book about?" Give us your best off-the-cuff blurb of any book, any genre, and have your readers try to guess the title in the comments!
Well, this high school chick gets her first period in the gym showers and totally freaks. Her classmates pretend to like her, then humiliate her at the prom by dumping pig blood on her head, so she kills them all by using her telekinetic powers and burning down the school.

My attempt at this will come from one of my favorite YA novels!

This girl who spends her life practically raising her mom ends up at her sister's place her senior year of high school and has to figure out what a family is. Clue: It's not whatever the hell goes on at her next-door neighbor's house, no matter how goody-goody he seems.

Guess in the comments.

Also, my 300th post will be on Friday and as celebration the book giveaway for June will commence!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Musings: The Last Little Blue Envelope

The Last Little Blue Envelope

Some of you might remember that I read Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes last year and wasn't horribly impressed. I thought the MC, Ginny, was too whiny after having been given an all-expensive-paid trip around Europe, I didn't get some elements of the book's structure and didn't feel like Ginny had much going for her as a character other than the plot. But I love Maureen Johnson in general, so I bought the sequel last week. 

And I'm so glad I did.

LLBE fixes all the issues I had with the first book. Ginny has grown a ton, she's struggling with filling out college applications and figuring out boys. Although the stakes of the novel aren't as high--she knows the most pressing of her late aunt's secrets--the desire for that last letter has a more emotional pull, in my opinion. The characters are so well-drawn in their interactions with each other---something I will definitely take away from this book is working on group dynamic. 

Also, Johnson's quirkiness shone through in amazing little one liners. One character is described as being like a "deranged muppet" (A term that also appears in Libba Bray's Beauty Queens) and the hostel they stay at in Untrecht could only come from the mind, or perhaps the experience, of someone well traveled enough to know how much oddity is out there. 

I love when you can see the growth an author has made over time, and I'm back on board with anything and everything Maureen Johnson now. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Thoughts

My weekend consisted of two things: sweating and photographs. Unrelated, except that my sudden desire to organize and scan all the family photos means I had to stay downstairs where our air-conditionning is shot. How people lived in this town pre-AC is beyond me, but luckily upstairs is a second unit so it's not horrible up here.

Anyway, sorting through photographs from my early childhood is fascinating. I have a steal-trap memory, but there are still things I've forgotten, like after we moved in '96 my parents took me back to visit my old friends at least twice, and theirs sent them over to visit me. They tried more than I've given them credit for, but the friendships still fell apart as they're wont to do at the age of seven.

On the other hand, there are pictures from when my best friend Carly came into my life. She lived in the town we'd moved away from, but our moms worked together. Fourteen years later, we're still insanely close. We have different things in common than my other friends and I did, and saw each other many times a year with our moms, but the distance was the same. What made the friendship different?

It's food for thought on a random summer Monday during a period in my life where I'm seeking to make new friendships stick...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Five!

1. I'm in the query trenches officially now with my first rejection. Ready, boys? We're going in!

2. Can you imagine having a dad who dressed up in costumes to wave to your bus every day? This kid did. The blog goes through and shows all 170 costumes. Some of them are quite inventive! I still think I'd be humiliated, though.

3. A story of the powers of modern tech. Last night my dad--born in 1940--started singing some song about Lemon Trees, basically to be obnoxious. However, my mom--born in 1951--recognized the song, so I Youtubed it to get the tune. Mom said the one I found was it, but Dad thought it was slower. Turns out, they knew the same song, but covers from several years apart.

Posting Mom's version because it made me ask if everyone in the sixties was on a contact high.

4. I don't have many opinions on the items Mac introduced in the Keynote except being a bit dismayed we have to wait longer. The Versions feature for Lion--saving regular versions of documents--will be a lifesaver for writers, and I'm happy about iCloud though I was it were streaming and not downloading. Overall, though, we'll have to see it all once it lands.

5. I forgot my phone today at lunch, and honestly twitched every time I thought to use it, like I had a phantom limb. It can't be good to be so attached to technology but... oh well....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Disability and Art (Week One)

This is the first in what will probably be a weekly series of posts on some of my views about art and disability. It's loosely inspired by the documentary film "ARTS: Disabilities, Possibilities and the Arts" and partially on my own observations.

Before I delve into the deep stuff about what it means to be an artist with a disability and where the line is drawn between disability, art, art therapy and simply being someone who is an artist and has a disability, I'm going to talk about something I saw last week at the conference I attended. Something that bugged me.

There were several "Art by People with Disabilities" tables in the exhibition hall, selling jewelry, scented candles, paintings and the like. All done by artists with disabilities (In the words of a friend, "It looks like a flea market in here").

 The idea behind this is, in a way, great. However, the selling point of most of these organizations felt more like the agenda of an art therapy course. The buzzwords were "empowerment" using art as a tool for "disabled entrepreneurs".

Which it can be.

But selling the product specifically because it was made by a person with a disability is cheapening both the person and art as a whole. Some of these things were shoddily made. There were Justin Bieber bookmarks, folks, the kind of thing we made with a lamenting machine in the sixth grade. Making a person with a disability believe that they have produced something of quality--something worthy to be sold--and then letting people buy it solely because the producer is disabled... That's not fair to anyone.

There are disabled artists, painters, jewelry makers. Is it amazing that they've transcended their disability to do what they love? Maybe. Or maybe it's simply them overcoming obstacles for their passion, the way everyone else does at some time or other. And if the product is quality, by all means let people buy it, but don't guilt them into it by making disability the selling point. It's not fair to anyone.

If (when) I get published, I will be an author with a disability. And, let's be honest, I won't care about anyone's reasoning for buying my book, but I don't plan on ever saying "I have a disability and I wrote this, so, no matter what the quality, you should buy it." It's extortion, to my view, though I'm aware others don't see it this way at all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

RTW: Plotter or Pantser

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic.

This week’s prompt was: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Depends on how you categorize. I rarely outline until the last few chapters, but I let plots simmer for long enough (thanks to my unending MS monogamy) that I usually have a fair idea (or at least a series of images) of where things are going.

I've tried different things while revising, outline, snowflake method, but every revision changes too much for these things to really work for me.

Interestingly, in life I'm much more of a planner. I make epic documents for major life choices (e.g. grad school), but although I do a lot of research and note taking on what I want to happen, often I really just go with my gut. Maybe more of a pantser after all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book Musings: Possession

Possession by Elana Johnson

Full discretion: Elana is one of my favorite people in the YA world. She has been so, so nice to me. Trying not to let this color my review!

I first started reading this while standing in the middle of the floor of my room. Through the first two or three chapters I didn't move--from standing in the middle of the floor in my pajamas. The voice is incredible, and Elana tosses you straight into the story. We all know dystopian isn't necessarily my thing, but this book is my favorite of the numerous dystopian books this year. 

The book has so many incredible things going for it. The amount of mind-boogling that goes on is completely incredible. The constant shifting of alliances, Vi's character development as she learns to trust someone other than herself, and then has to question that trust is fabulous, as well as her personal ties to the corrupt government. The lines of good and bad are blurred in a way I haven't seen before, and the ending will leave you reeling, absolutely guaranteed, and I think this is what I most learned from Elana's book, how to not be afraid of going where the story needs to go. 

There are a few road blocks. Elana's mentioned that she has issues with setting, and I see it here. Sometimes I had a hard time figuring out where they were, or how they got there. Also, I had a hard time imagining exactly what life in the Goodgrounds was like, since we first see Vi being arrested and never really see her "normal life." It's a trade-off for starting the story so quickly, but it also may be my freakish desire to know absolutely everything about the world of a story. 

Overall, I would say you absolutely must read this book Also you must go say hello on Elana's blog, and check out her query-writing ebook, because it is one of the best out there for writers, and dude, Elana is cool. 

Monday, June 6, 2011


I'm sitting here waiting for the live coverage of the WWDC, aka the Worldwide Developer's Conference that Apple gives ever year. Usually it's to announce a new iPhone, but this year it looks like it will be other things.

Doing this while surfing YA blogs after returning home from a disability-oriented conference makes me think about all the different things I do in my life. All of these influence my writing, but they also give me a lot of choices for what I want to do in addition to writing. I'm searching for a job for the fall and I'm so torn between all my interests! So many paths to take!

What things do you do, in addition to your "main" profession?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday Five!

1. While I was home, I started swimming again. I'd forgotten how amazing the pool is, how free I feel and how able to control my usually traitorous body. Love it.

2. Sunday I finished Geektastic the book of short stories about geekdom. I loved it, even though sometimes I feel as though I don't have enough geek cred. I know nothing about Battlestar Gallactica or Star Trek. I've never RPGed or WOWd. But stories in this book totally connected with me. Sarah Zarr's story about being a theatre geek particularly, but a lot of the others connected. I miss my geeky friends even more now.

3. Sarah Michelle Gellar has a new show starting in the Fall, and it looks really interesting. Mistaken identity is usually interesting, and since I'm so deep into Buffy right now seeing SMG onscreen again will be really cool.

4. Taylor Swift is amazing in concert.  See her if you possibly can. There will be a post about my "Taylor Swift Journey" soon.

5. A story. The first night of our travels,  Wednesday night, we arrived at our hotel whereupon my friend Katie and I decided the acquisition of ice cream was imperative. We set off downstairs where our quest was thwarted by the closed giftshop--which had really odd hours. 7-11 and 5-9. Fom 11-5 you were SOL. Anyway, the receptionist informed us ice cream could be have at the Shell station.

We set off. At one point, I stopped to tie my shoe (this will be important later, much like Chekov's gun). In the Shell parking lot my Swiss army knife somehow fell out of my wallet when it should have been in my purse, not my wallet. That thing WANTS to be lost, I swear.

Anyway. We chose our three flavors of Ben & Jerry's (not, you may be disappointed to know Late Night Snack because, ew, potato chip ice cream) and proceeded to the checkout where there was already a woman standing there scratching off lottery tickets. We'll call her Sylvia. She was maybe forty, aged beyond her years with a platinum blond ponytail and stretch black shirt and shorts. Also, bright purple eyeshadow. The check out girl was maybe nineteen and didn't have English as a first language. Her name was Gabriella.

The conversation:

Sylvia:  twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, a hundred.  twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, a hundred,.   twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, a hundred,  twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, a hundred,  twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, a hundred.  Oh my God. I just won five hundred dollars Holy shit. Holy shit. *to us* sorry, I'm swearing. Holy shit. *to Gabriella* Tell me I'm not wrong!

Gabriella: No. You're not. (NB not sure, but I rather think the ticket was read wrong.)

Sylvia: Holy shit. *high fives Gabriella* My dad is going to be so happy! Give me the money.

Gabriella: I can't. I only have eighty dollars in the register.

Sylvia: No! No! I'm not leaving. Give me my money!

Gabriella: I can't!

Sylvia: No! No! *crying* My dad will be so proud! I need to get the money. Give me a canceled ticket so I can get it somewhere else. So they'll give it to me. Holy shit.

I suppose Gabriella did this. Her face suggested she had seen the same South Florida news segments I had and just wanted to get the weirdly dressed crying woman out of her Shell station before shots were fired. or a car was driven in through the wall. (South Florida news is full of this stuff)

My friend and I paid for our ice cream and started walking home. On the way, I picked up the hotel key I'd accidentally left on the ground while tying my shoe.

Until we told her the lengths we had to go to to get the ice cream, I'm pretty sure Mom thought we'd spent the time riding the elevators up and down as we were wont to do as kids*.

*We seriously considered it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Today I'm in Ft. Lauderdale seeing a Taylor Swift concert, but tomorrow I'll be in Orlando for the Family C.A.F.E. conference, a conference for families of people with disabilities. My mother was on the founding committee in the late nineties, and I've gone nearly every year since. Most of my disability-world friends go there as well, and it's a wonderful chance to catch up.

There's something incredible about being with people who inherently get it, because they've been there. This is why I enjoyed reading Knowing Jesse so much, because I saw people I know in her words about strength and fighting. It's part of the reason my friend Allison and I bonded so quickly--because she gets it without having to be told. Empathy is stronger when you've been there.

Not, of course, that able-bodied people don't get it. I have a whole post about the people i know who get it. But it's, in a way, the same thing as understanding someone because they like Buffy, or have Harry Potter memorized. Shared experience.

And this doesn't mean I am inherently friends with anyone who has a disability, any more than everyone from the same culture gets along like a house afire. There are people who have disabilities who are spoiled, who are bitches, who are boring. We're not all the inspiring Lifetime Movie subjects the world perceives us to be.

However, my friends are pretty awesome. They've conquered incredible obstacles, and are nice, funny intelligent people on top of it. We're all planning on doing totally different things in life--some of us with disability things, some of them not, but all of us will carry the knowledge, the ability to empathize with others who have dealt with disability-related challenges.

Plus, we've also done ridiculous things together, some things when we were nine and incredibly stupid weirdos, so sharing stories is always fun.